How about Extending IRS & Maryland Tax Deadlines for Hurricane Relief, Passing a ban on Tax Strategy Patents, exempting Tax Professionals from the Maryland SS Privacy Act, advocating for Private Company Financial Accounting Standards and testifying in Annapolis against sales taxes on services?
In today's fast moving environment, we are constantly asking this question of ourselves and constantly striving to be even more proactive in our advocacy efforts on behalf of our members.
We like to think about it this way, will we be a victim or a participant?
Participant! Exclamation Mark!
Since 1901, we have been advocating for CPAs in Maryland about issues from the Federal, State, State Board of Accountancy,and Professional Standards areas. This summer we have been busy in all of these areas.
Here are some of the latest outcomes and successes you should know about:
- Extended due dates from Hurricane Irene in Maryland. Our own Mary Beth Halpern worked with the AICPA Tax Division, the IRS, and the Comptroller of Maryland to clarify the extension confusion around the disasters of the past few weeks. Here is the latest, On September 6, we contacted IRS on behalf of our members to request clarification of news release IR-2011-88. We received this If you reply from Candice Cromling, Director, National Liaison, “Your members and their clients in Maryland will meet the criteria for relief in the Press Release IR-2011-88.” She also added – “If the penalty is not automatically suppressed at the time of filing and is assessed in a CP notice, the taxpayer should respond to the notice referring to the Press Release along with a statement about the evacuation order or severe weather warning that impacted the taxpayer and/or the preparer (could be a phone call to the number on the notice or a written response to the notice).” We are relying on the information and direction provided to us by IRS as we share this with our members. We recommend members refer back to IR-2011-88. The Maryland Comptroller followed suit agreeing to follow the IRS guidance and granted a one week extension to September 22, 2011, see their website here).
- Tax Strategy Patents ban is official! After five years of work and a concerted effort the AICPA and State CPA Societies have scored another major victory for CPAs with this legislation (for more background see our prior posts here, here, and here). The new law deems any “strategy for reducing, avoiding, or deferring tax liability” to be “prior art” under the patent law, and therefore not patentable. This would disallow the now famous “Roth IRA conversion excel template” which was patented a few years ago. Worth noting is that we are one of only three types of business method patents that the US Patent & Trademark Office is prohibited from issuing. The other two are medical procedures and nuclear technology.
- Clarification of Maryland Social Security Privacy Act – We received an opinion form the Maryland Attorney General that clarifies that CPAs can use client's social security numbers when corresponding with about taxes and in the tax preparation process. In part the opinion reads, “The inclusion of a Social Security number on tax forms is required by both State and federal law…As a result tax forms include Social Security numbers…it is my view that the Privacy Act does not require government documents be redacted by tax professionals for this purpose. In addition, where forms are sent to the taxpayer for review prior to filing, leaving the number in the form permits the confirmation of the accuracy of that number.” This was a concern raised from members of of our state & federal tax committees and on our tax listservs. Special thanks to Delegate Brian Feldman for requesting this clarification in our behalf.
- Advocating about Private Company Financial Accounting Standards – The MACPA was the only State CPA Society to form a task force to study the recommendation by the FAF Blue Ribbon Panel. The task force presented their conclusions (read the full report here) to the MACPA Board at the CPA Summit and then sent a comment letter urging the FAF to accept the recommendations to form a separate Private Company Standards Board alongside of FASB. Here is MACPA's letter Download FAF Chairman Comment Letter. We were also featured in an interview with CFO magazine here. We encourage to you write the FAF immediately (send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the AICPA's letter tool here.
- Testifying before the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee about sales tax on accounting, tax, and consulting services. Ed Ben of SC&H, prior Chairman of our State Tax Committee represented MACPA and testified against sales taxes on accounting, tax and consulting services at the hearing on July 25th. See the article from the Baltimore Sun.
- Mobility and reciprocal licensing update – New York is now the 48th state to enact the “mobility” provisions of the Uniform Accountancy Act, making us the most mobile profession in the US. DC has passed it through the State Board and is awaiting the mayor's signature. That leaves only Hawaii and California, both of which are working in it. The AICPA & NASBA also recently released a great mobility tool to help you navigate multi-state compliance and licensing requirements.
Once again another great example of the Power of We! The active involvement of our members and friends at the AICPA and other State CPA Societies leads to success and protecting and expanding the infrastructure that your CPA license rides on!
So this is what we have done for you lately. What do you think?
See the “new math” video about how this all adds up for our members
See what Managing Partner's of Maryland Major Firms said in this brief video